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Episode 21: Katherine Stansfield – Poetry and Place

Picture: Two Cats in the Yard

Katherine Stansfield talks about poetry and place and how language intersects the two. Her second collection, We Could Be Anywhere By Now, is inspired by her life in Wales after growing up in Cornwall. Katherine wrote the collection over seven years and it covers her experience of moving Wales, a country with its own official language, and memories of her childhood in Cornwall, an area with its own distinct history, geography and a language that is almost forgotten. From this starting point it moves to Italy and ends up in Vancouver.

Katherine has several novels as well as poetry collections available. For more details see katherinestansfield.blogspot.com

For a writing exercise Katherine reads Klonjuze, a poem about a word her sister invented. She invites you to write about a family word, a word that has gained a new meaning or special significance or make up a word and write a poem to define it.

I’m putting together an ‘open mic’ episode featuring listeners’ poems and would particularly like to receive submissions inspired by this or any of the other writing prompts from previous episodes. Full details of how to submit here.

Katherine Stansfield grew up in Cornwall and now lives in Cardiff. Her poems have appeared in The NorthMagmaPoetry WalesThe Interpreter’s HouseAnd Other PoemsButcher’s Dog, and as ‘Poem of the Week’ in The Guardian. Her debut collection, Playing House (2014), a pamphlet, All That Was Wood (2019) and her second full-length collection, We Could Be Anywhere By Now(2020), are all published by Seren. She teaches for the Open University and is a Royal Literary Fund Fellow. Katherine is also a novelist. Her latest title are The Mermaid’s Call, and Widow’s Welcome (co-written with her partner and published under the name DK Fields).

Katherine Stansfield – Fear of Flying Course

Picture: Two Cats in the Yard

Cardiff-based poet and novelist Katherine Stansfield reads a poem from her second poetry collection We Could Be Anywhere By Now, recently published by Seren Books. You can hear her on the next podcast. She talks about how moving to Wales after growing up in Cornwall inspired the collection and her interest in poetry and place and how language intersects this.

Find out more about Katherine here

Call for submissions: Listeners’ edition

Submissions are now open for a listeners’ edition of the podcast. Please submit your poems according to the guidelines below. I’d particularly like to feature poems inspired by the writing exercises on previous podcasts. You can find details of these here.

Please submit an audio recording up to five minutes long, including any introduction to poetrynonstop@gmail.com. Alternatively you can send up to two poems in a Word document and I’ll record them. Please also include a short self-introduction. You can include a website and any social media handles you’d like to share. Also let me know which exercise(s), if any, you were inspired by.

Tips for recording:

You can produce an adequate recording using any laptop, smartphone or tablet device. Try to avoid any background noise and make sure your voice is audible but not distorted. Adjust the distance between you and the microphone if necessary. Beyond that don’t worry too much about quality as long as you can hear the words clearly. If you prefer you can send the poems as text.

Deadline for submissions is May 24th.

Episode 20: Olly Watson – Start writing and let it go

Olly Watson is a thatcher not a poet so has absolutely no clue how he has managed to convince loads of people to put him on stage. He has gigged all over the country including four solo shows at the Edinburgh Fringe, often to crowds in the tens of people, runs his own poetry night in Norwich and was a 2017 National poetry slam finalist. It is true that he’s a much better thatcher than he is a poet, but he is a damn fine thatcher.

Olly Watson introduces himself in typically modest fashion but his poetry is worth hearing along with his philosophy on being creative and happy, and praise for the various people who have influenced him.

Olly’s writing exercise is to write a new version of an existing poem. He gives Philip Larkin’s poem Sad Steps a twist and Patrick rewrites Elizabeth Bishop’s One Art from a different angle. Please share your own efforts by email or in the comments.

Olly Watson – Jumper

Olly Watson is a firm favourite on the Norwich spoken word scene and has performed all over the country including the National Poetry Slam finals in London and four solo shows at the Edinburgh Fringe. Tune in to the forthcoming podcast to hear more of his poetry and what inspires him. Here’s a taste of his poetry and you can see his Edinburgh show, A Thatcher’s Guide to Dogging in Bungay, below.

Jumper

His jumper was to big for him, but it looked warm.
I sat alone because no-one I knew liked poetry
and I hadn’t asked.
“You want to come to see a poet with me?
So I don’t have to play on my phone, look busy, look wanted.”
he read and all I could think about was his jumper
where it would fall on my thighs,
how it would be great to sleep in.
I used to have a similar jumper, which you used to steal.
It had a hood, but his was yellow and sailorish
so they were probably equal.
I think I left it on a beach in North Norfolk
on that last holiday we had, when the kids were little
and we could barely stand each other,
and we hoped they wouldn’t notice that one of us
was always, “Popping for ice cream,” or,
“Just having a nap.”
One night it rained and we were all trapped in the tent.
One last night to be sure,
then, whatever came next.

Olly Watson

Episode 19: David Hanlon – Spectrum of Flight

Bristol-based poet David Hanlon began writing poetry after recovering from depression. He was inspired by previous podcast guest Christina Thatcher to explore past experiences through poetry. Christina became his mentor and he has been widely published.

On this podcast he discusses his debut publication The Spectrum of Flight. In it he explores themes such as sexuality, homophobia, bullying, toxic masculinity, depression, love, resilience and, ultimately, recovery. Delving into deeply personal terrain, Hanlon exhumes an adolescence pummelled by name-calling that grew a beast of shame inside him and rendered him silent. In revisiting these painful experiences, and a resulting adulthood charred by the fluctuating and precarious nature of his mental health, he battles to reclaim his voice and grasp self-acceptance; to prize open the metal bars of his caged body: ‘a moulting of the internalised’, to spread his wings and soar: unleashing, and finally embracing, the spectrum of his identity.

David’s writing exercise

As David’s collection is all about flight as a metaphor for rising above and overcoming hardship write a poem about flight. Try using personal experiences as inspiration. The flight could be literal or metaphorical. It may dominate the poem or be one detail. Try free writing until your imagination grows wings, then see where it takes you.

As always we’d love to hear what you come up with. Please share via email or online using #poetrynonstop.

David Hanlon is a confessional poet from Cardiff, Wales, now living in Bristol, England. He is a Best of the Net nominee. You can find his work online in over 40 online magazines. His first chapbook Spectrum of Flight is available for purchase now at Animal Heart Press. You can follow him on twitter @DavidHanlon13

David Hanlon – Taking Flight

Bristol-based confessional poet David Hanlon will be joining me on the podcast to discuss his debut chapbook Spectrum of Flight available from Animal Heart Press. Here’s a poem from the book:

Taking flight

Under night’s clawed grip
I still emerge
nestling into fledgling
into full grown

Small
bird into golden eagle

Overpowering size
I raptor-bully my way free
shimmer like a precious stone
broad wings extend into an equator

The warm-blooded
all of me

Each appendage a blade
a soldier on the front line
plumage-army

I embrace my feather-frilled distance

Feel my talons / scythes
cut
through earth / through stone
arrowhead beak / hooked
predator-sharp

Lion-boys stumble
at my earthquake-felt
beating

Whipping up sandstorms
choke-taste
metallic / smoke / dirt

Cyber yellow scale feet
unclench
hangings of fish hooks
thrown into the air

Tawny-coloured carnivores / nest-
twig-legged / look up
with dull
starved-sick eyes

See a small bird
glint-golden
in the mocking-blue sky
hear its nourishing barrage

David Hanlon

Episode 18: Christina Thatcher – Fire Poems

Cardiff-based poet Christina Thatcher discusses her second collection How to Carry Fire published by Parthian Books.

How to Carry Fire was born from the ashes of family addiction. Beginning with the burning down of her childhood home, Thatcher explores how firecan both destroy and cleanse. Her work recognises embers everywhere: in farmhouses, heroin needles, poisonous salamanders.”

Christina share some poems and talks about the experiences that inspired this powerful collection.

Christina challenges you to write your own poem inspired by fire. This could be a literal fire (like a bonfire, campfire, home fire, wild fire, etc) or a metaphorical fire (like the fuel for passion, love, determination, etc). Whatever sparks your interest! 

Please share you poems via email here or on social media using #poetrynonstop.

Christina Thatcher is a Creative Writing Lecturer at Cardiff Metropolitan University. She keeps busy off campus too as the Poetry Editor for The Cardiff Review, a tutor for The Poetry School, a member of the Literature Wales Management Board and as a freelance workshop facilitator across the UK. Her poetry and short stories have featured in over 50 publications including The London Magazine, Planet Magazine, And Other Poems, Acumen and The Interpreter’s House and more. Her most recent poetry collection, How to Carry Fire, will launch in April 2020 with Parthian Books. To learn more about Christina’s work please visit her website: christinathatcher.com or follow her on Twitter @writetoempower.  

Christina Thatcher – How To Carry Fire

Cardiff-based poet Christina Thatcher is set to release her second poetry collection How To Carry Fire. Here is the title poem from the book due to be published by Parthian Books on April 2nd. Look out for the next podcast when Christina will be talking about the collection and sharing more poems.

How to Carry Fire

Conjure every fire you have ever read about—
London’s gutting, Brisbane’s breadless

factory, Boston’s burning. Remember
your aching home, the leftovers

of your childhood journals flaking
in the hot shell of your bedroom.

Bring these to a furnace at the front, stoke
with the poker your father pressed into

your mother’s neck. Take what those flames
can give you. Feel heat enter your stomach.

Stay wary now. You must never let the light
go out. Keep it lit until you learn to glow.

Christina Thatcher

This poem was originally published on Anthropocene poetry where you can also read two other poems.

How to Carry Fire was born from the ashes of family addiction. Beginning with the burning down of her childhood home, Thatcher explores how fire can both destroy and cleanse. Her work recognises embers everywhere: in farmhouses, heroin needles, poisonous salamanders.

Thatcher reveals how fire is internalised and disclosed through anxiety, addiction, passion and love. Underneath and among the flames runs the American and Welsh landscapes – locations which, like fire itself, offer up experiences which mesmerise, burn and purify. This poignant second collection reminds us of how the most dangerous and volatile fires can forge us – even long after the flames have died down.

Shortlisted for the Bare Fiction Debut Poetry Collection Competition in 2015 and a winner in the Terry Hetherington Award for Young Writers in 2016, Christina Thatcher’s poetry and short stories have featured in over 50 publications including The London Magazine, Planet Magazine, And Other Poems, Acumen and The Interpreter’s House. Her first collection, More than you were, was published by Parthian Books in 2017.

How to Carry Fire can be ordered here

Listen to Christina talking about her first collection More Than You Were in this interview from 2016